Shape of Physics Education Research Field

How has the field of PER changed over time? A network analytic approach


Eleanor C Sayre


January 1, 2015

As a research field, PER is relatively young. It’s very rare for a new research field to develop and leave a paper trail. We measure the “shape’’ of the PER community and how it changes over time.

We couple network analytic methods with interviews and surveys of community members. Iinitial results suggest that the PER community, as measured by coauthorship networks, started coming together in 2006 and has been growing more intertwined ever since. In the next year, we will marry coauthorship data to information about mentoring relationships and analysis of research topics to investigate the spread of information in the network.

Our coauthorship data come from the PERC proceedings, PhysRevST-PER, and the American Journal of Physics. Our mentoring relationships data come from a survey of PER community members. If you’re a PER person, why not contribute a few mentors or mentees?

People on this project:


Katharine Anderson, Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business

Eleanor Sayre, Kansas State University

Graduate students:

Chris Oakley, Georgia State University

Matt Crespi, Carnegie Mellon University

Helpful friends:

Michael Wittmann, University of Maine

Steve Kanim, New Mexico State University

Lyle Barbato, American Association of Physics Teachers

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